July 16, 2014


Sooo, we need to make some changes here.
Changes that will hopefully have a positive effect on my business, especially in the time department.
I love taking some time to write a blog. But I often feel like I never have enough time to give to it.
I have this problem, where I try to take on too much.
You might have a similar problem.
But in the next month or so, I am adding some more things to my life that I will talk more on later.

One of the things I was taught in art school was to find one thing you do well, and focus on that until you have become a master of that one thing. Which might seem locigal for most people, but for creatives such as me, it is quite difficult to not want to just do everything there is to do. 
You probably heard me talk about wanting to start a fashion line, which has been my dream since I was about seven. Well, I am actually going to do this thing now. After years of taking classes and sewing for myself, I feel I am prepared to give this a shot. After making handbags for the past two years and learning the market, I am going to dip my toes in the ice cold water of fashion retail. 

So what does this all mean and why are you telling us?

This blog space will become a space that just represents my sewing.
I am limiting it from a lifestyle blog, to just a sewing/business blog.
Therefore you will see more of my work. Mainly outfits from my handmade wardrobe and previews and information on my business. And less of everything else I post, included recipes, weekly updates, inspiration posts, etc.

2. Handbags are also going to be limited. I will still be making them, but they will not be the focus of my business. My business will become more focused on clothing. The longterm goal is to start a clothing line that turns into an online boutique that turns into a physical boutique in years to come. 
And so on and so forth. (Or Sew On and Sew Forth if you are feeling a bit punny)

3. I am taking a part time job position that allows me to work with local artists and grow a Christian-based cafe in our community. Despite having a lot of goals of my own, I feel passionate about the opening of this small business and I was asked to help them propel it forward with my ideas and skills. It is going to be a great asset to our little town, yet that means I will have less time to focus on my business and need to limit the things going on in my life so I can succeed.

That's about it.
Thank you for understanding and being so supportive of my journey!

July 15, 2014

Tutorial: Hemming with Hem Tape

I found the best possible fabric for a pair of shorts a few years back.
It is obnoxious, colorful, and a bit fishy.
I picked this cotton stretch sateen up at Joann's back when I use to work there. Therefore I began this project at least 4 years ago and while cleaning up my sewing room decided I am finally going to complete some of my unfinished projects, or UFO's as some like to say!
When I initially began these shorts, I cut everything out and then looked at the instructions. I was quite confused and not having the time or understanding I put them in a drawer and forgot about them.
After getting married and moving out, I came across these bad boys again. And finally, 4 years later they are complete out of desperate need for shorts this summer, because in case you haven't noticed, it is a bit hot outside and until now, I did not own a single pair of shorts since high school.

A pattern review and more pictures of fit and styling are on their way!
But for now, I will show you how I used some ribbon in my stash to hem them.

I had a spool of this hot pink ribbon in my stash and decided it would have to do as hem tape because I did not have actual hem tape in my stash and even though I could actually walk to the store and get some, I decided to save some money and time and use up what I already had at home.
Plus, I was getting increasingly excited about these shorts and did not want to leave the house until I finished them!
This pattern called for vents at the outside leg side seam. So I began by pinning my ribbon along the edge of the fabric, right sides together. 

I sewed around each leg a quarter of an inch in. 

 I then folded the ribbon over and pinned my hem in place. 

 I went around the leg twice, first at a quarter inch and then again at a half inch. 

I then tried them on and danced around the house! 

Ahhh, perfect!
More pictures soon!

July 14, 2014

Project: Blue China Dress

I can't believe my best friend Liz is married!
She was a gorgeous bride and I cried a little bit when I first saw her in the gown she designed. 
And I was so happy she was able to use some lace that I used in my wedding for her dress.
For months we went thrift shopping to gather items for her home and her wedding.
It all felt a little out of control as the day became closer and she sent me pictures of her bathroom floor covered in thrifted candle sticks and glasses. She collected a crazy amount of blue china plates for their reception. It was actually quite impressive how many blue china plates are in thrift stores!

I knew I wanted to make a blue china plate inspired dress to wear to her wedding at an adorable bed and breakfast near by. I mentioned this project in my June Fabric Haul video, so it is finally time I reveal it to you!

I used Simplicity Pattern 1418 and this blue floral cotton sateen from Fabric Mart.
I went on quite the hunt for this floral fabric and finally found the perfect one after searching several local fabric shops and four rooms of fabric at Fabric Mart. 

So there it is!
I absolutely love this dress. I felt awfully classy!
I see it making some reappearances at a tea party or two in the future.

Congratulations, Jeff + Liz!
I wish you the happiest marriage and the best success in your life together!
And now that the wedding is over, I am totally stealing my best friend back for coffee, asap.

July 8, 2014

One Year Wedding Anniversary

I can't believe it has already been one year since we got married!

Here are a few pictures from our first year of dating:

And our wedding day:

Happy Anniversay, Joshua!
I love you more than I can find the words to say.
the Mrs.

July 3, 2014

DIY: Quick Crib Quilt for Nursery

As I mentioned in my June Fabric Haul video (there will not be a July video because I didn't get to finish everything from June! But there will be a August video, I promise!) I was going to make a quilt to gift to a friend who is expecting this month. They are having a baby boy, but I chose fabrics that would transition well between genders so they can keep the same look in the nursery, but have a different crib quilt print for either. I purchased these materials at Fabric Mart after they bought out a quilt shop that was going out of business. I picked them up for just $4 a yard and the cotton batting I had on hand for some reason... I think I used 1.333 yards of each print. I found the ombre first and then cut the floral to match the length because the ombre was the last of the bolt!

 Here is how you can make your own quilt in just a few hours! You can do this even if you are not a professional at sewing, all it takes is the ability to sew a line!
Layer your fabrics, prints facing out and batting in the middle.
Starting at one selvage, pin the edge and then pin occasionally as you work your way across the fabric, smoothing it out as you go. Cut off the excess fabric making sure all 4 sides are straight and matching.
I first used the ombre stripes as my guide to sew across the quilt.
I decided I wanted diagonal lines going across the quilt, so I laid my quilt out on my studio floor and used 1/4" quilter's tape to mark diagonal, starting at the corner, making a straight line across to the opposite corner. I then worked my way out from the center every 4 inches. 

 Sew right along the edge of the tape.
Remove the tape after you have sewed along each strip.
It's already looking like a quilt!
Just need binding!
 I had some of this blue quilt binding in my stash I picked up at my local Good's when it was in the clearance section for I think 50 cents a pack. It matched the floral print perfectly!
Open up your binding and flatten out the folds, but do not press!
Pin your binding tape matching the edge with the quilt edge.
One side of the binding will have a fold that is closer to the edge than the other, us that side to pin along your quilt.
Pin the first side of your quilt.

Begin sewing the binding using the fold as your guide like the image above. When you get to the corner, sew almost to the corner, stopping a quarter inch away. Pull your quilt out of the machine. Take the loose tape and fold it across the pinned tape making a 90 degree triangle on top. Holding the triangle with your fingers on the opposite hand, fold the tape over itself and your fingers towards the side without binding. Remove your fingers from under the tape and hold the top of the folded tape. Now you can pin the next side. Place back under the machine and continue along that side starting at the edge. Do this for all four corners.

If you run out of binding, leave yourself about 3" and make a seam with the next package of tape.
After you have completed the first step of sewing the binding you your quilt, fold the binding over matching the center fold of the binding with the edge of your quilt. Fold under the tape at the fold and pin around the quilt. Sewing on the side that you already stitched your binding to, stitch in the ditch (the seam line) all the way around your quilt.

Check the other side and make sure the binding is getting caught in your stitches like the image above.
This is the opposite side of the fabric, you will see stitching unlike the side we stitched in the ditch where the stitching is hidden. 

I had to do a little hand sewing here and there were my binding was not completely caught in the stitching. I also stitched the corners so they would lie flat.
And that's it! 
A homemade quilt perfect for your baby's nursery, your children's room, or to give to a friend. 

Let me know if you have any questions about the process.

July 1, 2014

8 Things I Have Learned from My First Year in Business

I have officially been in business for 1.5 years now making handbags for my line A Girl Named Katie.
Business is tough. I was told a billion times when I started my business. And they are right. It is really hard. 

I make all of my products by hand.
This means that I must pay myself an hourly wage to make it worth my time.
However, I have learned that getting other people to pay for your time is really hard.
There is a lack of understanding of the time that goes into any type of fashion work when fast fashion companies can sell it for almost nothing.

A handmade business is not fast fashion and you will get what you pay for.
You are paying for someone to 
1. source the best materials for you, 
2. to create a pattern and make samples to test on models, 
3. and to photograph, market, and list on a website 
4. and then package it like a gift and ship it to you. 

And most times when it comes to small businesses on Etsy, 
that someone is one person who spends every hour of their day 
1. dreaming about their business, 
2. designing new products, 
3. cold calling shops, 
4. packing and traveling to shows, 
5. and being the customer service rep for the line.

It is a lot of work. Think of what you do at work every day. I am sure you do a lot too. Now think about what you get paid. You deserve that money for all the work you do, right?
Yeah, so do we!
We are every position of the company.

Here is a great article on why small businesses might cost more and why you should still seek to make purchases from them: http://www.sophiestargazer.com/stargazer-qa-usa-made-expensive-care/

So if you are thinking about starting a business in the near future that you want to eventually make your career, here are a few things I have learned in my first year of business:

1. Be prepared to spend all of your time making a go of it. And when it gets hard and you want to give up, it is ok to take a break and hit the drawing board again. Slow and steady wins the race. Take a day off once in a while. Grab lunch with a friend. The places that surround you are your best inspiration.

2. Not everything you make will be a hit. Know when to keep pursuing it and when to let it die. Do your research. Watch your customers, are they even looking at that item anymore? What are they looking for? Can you adapt your item to fit their need? But do not be quick to let it die, let it slowly die. Trends change and maybe it is not a hit right away, but in a couple months you might sell out!

3. You might have to make some things you particularly do not love to make in order to bring in money to pay the bills. It is a part of life, sometimes you have to do what you don't want to. But as your business grows, you will either be able to hire someone else to make that item, or you will be moved onto a different customer base that will appreciate the items you want to make.

4. Do not make anything too complicated that you cannot ask for help. Also, know your price range and do not make something that will take too much time and you will not be able to sell. This one has been the dead ringer for me this year. Sometimes simple is better, but not so simple that anyone can make it!

5. Know what your time is better spent on and what to hire out. If you are not tech savvy, do not spend three months designing something someone else could do in three weeks. Your time is money and sometimes it is better to ask for help and have it done right the first time than waste your time and have to have it redone later.

6. If you choose to invest in hiring out, do not go for the cheapest route. Take time to make a good investment. For example, if you need to hire a photographer for your product shots, really look at their work. Talk to other people who have used that photographer and make sure they are professional and timely. Do not hire someone for little and then receive blurry and dark images that will not help you sell your work. That is a waste of your time and money. Take the time to hire the right person that is going to help move your business forward. It is worth more than money and a good investment.

7. Make friends with other small business owners. They are probably going through or have gone through the same things you are dealing with in your business. Be open with them and ask questions about their company. Be supportive of their business, look to promote them in any way you can and make their friendship a priority. Growing in business is about who you know and who is there to support you with loving word of mouth.

8. If you are a small business owner, make yourself stand out. Build friendships with customers or followers. Create a blog or other social media outlet to include them in your life. They want to get to know you and it will keep them coming back! Know what to keep private and what to allow them to see. But be honest. Do not create a fake persona. Let your personality to attract them.

I hope these lessons I have learned can help others who are starting a business. 
And maybe those who are not, can appreciate small businesses a little more. 
Think about shopping small the next time you need a gift, a new outfit, or a place to eat!

Share your website, blog, or facebook in the comments!
I would love to check out your business or blog!